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As the business end of the season looms ahead, Rainey Old Boys face a demanding schedule from Saturday until the end of February.  Having clinched the SONI Premiership Section 1 title before Christmas with an impressive home win over Banbridge, they chose to field a shadow outfit in a meaningless fixture against Malone at Gibson Park and were duly hammered.  This decision has been criticised in some quarters, but, in view of the difficult programme that lies ahead, it is perfectly understandable that the squad were given a welcome break.


Five AIL games and an Ulster Cup semi-final against holders Armagh will fully tax a side that has shown that thay can compete with the best on their day.  They start with a short trip to Eaton Park where they sparkled in a SONI League game in late September.  They were clear winners again when they met in the AIL last month and should complete the treble, but they must guard against complacency.


Home advantage will, hopefully, inspire them when top teams Barnhall, Queen's and Cashel come to Magherafelt, and the Armagh match on January 18 should attract a big crowd.  Rainey then face another long trek on February 22 for a tough assignment in Limerick against Old Crescent.


The Seconds represent Magherafelt when they meet Coleraine at Sandel Lodge in the Towns' Cup.  They won several years ago and just might cause an upset if they do themselves justice.  The Thirds continued on their merry way by hammering Ballymena IV by 55-19 in Regional 1.  The opposition should be stronger in this league.  The Fours were once again left with a blank Saturday.